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Quotes

Quote #1

[Lorraine:] Also, you'll find out soon enough that John distorts—when he isn't out-and-out lying. For example, in Problems in American Democracy the other day, Mr. Weiner asked him what kind of homes early American settlers lived in, and John said tree huts. Now John knows early American settlers didn't live in tree huts, but he'll do just about anything to stir up some excitement. And he really did set off those bombs when he was a freshman, which, when you stop to consider sort of shows a pattern—an actual pattern. I think he used to distort things physically, and now he does it verbally more than any other way. (2)

Lorraine's thoughts about John's chronic lying show us John's sense of humor and need for an audience, and also demonstrate her psychological acuity, with the insight that John now distorts verbally instead of physically.

Quote #2

[Lorraine:] I looked at John's face and began to realize it was he who had started me telling all these prevarications.

John has made an art out of it. He prevaricates just for prevaricating's sake. It's what they call a compensation syndrome. His own life is so boring when measured against his daydreams that he can't stand it, so he makes up things to pretend it's exciting. Of course, when he gets caught in a lie, then he makes believe he was only telling the lie to make fun of whomever he was telling it to, but I think there's more to it than meets the eye. He can get so involved in a fib that you can tell he believes it enough to enjoy it. Maybe that's how all actors start. I don't know. (4)

John's lying seems to be contagious – Lorraine blames him for her skill at lying to strangers on the telephone. She also raises a disturbing question: does John always know when he's lying? Or does he convince even himself? Does he always know the difference between lying and truth?

Quote #3

[Lorraine:] One time last term Miss King asked him what happened to the book report he was supposed to hand in on Johnny Tremain, and he told her that he had spilled some coffee on it the night before, and when the coffee dried, there was still sugar on the paper and so cockroaches ate the book report. (4)

We never hear Miss King's reaction to this egregious lie. John couldn't have thought that she would believe it; it seems that this is an example of a lie he tells just for the joy of lying.

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